How is pertussis (whooping cough) in children diagnosed?

James D. Cherry, MD
To diagnose pertussis (whooping cough) in children, doctors take a sample of mucus from the back of the child’s nose to test for the presence of pertussis bacterium. A blood test to determine the white blood cell count should also be done in young children. In adults, a blood antibody test is used to make the diagnosis. Pertussis in young infants starts with a runny nose and mild cough with no fever. Since symptoms are mild, the diagnosis is often delayed. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.